October 01, 2010

Asobi ni Iku Yo -- Aoi ain't no delinquent, she's misunderstood!

Pete is "tired of shit anime". He wants to watch something good like Shingu. So would we all, of course, but unfortunately shows that fine are very rare.

He lists a large number of recent shows he's watched without finishing and explained why. One of his entries:

Asobi ni Ikuyo: Seen 1. Aoi is a syco bitch.

He's reacting to a scene in the first episode where Aoi materializes a really huge pistol and threatens to kill the man driving the car she's in.

Well, it's a disturbing scene, but Pete has totally misjudged it. She's not a psycho bitch. Rather, she's a lot like Yurika in Noir. Her back story comes out and it turns out she was rejected by her parents, taken in by a government agency, and trained by them to become an assassin. She hates it, and she hates them. The man she threatened is one of the ones she despises, and in the conversation just before that point he was being particularly disrespectful, treating her as a tool. She decided to put the fear of God into him.

But that impression of a cold, merciless killer is entirely wrong. Deep down she wants to love and be loved. Deep down she is very lonely. And by ep 3 she's quit her job for that government agency and is a fugitive from the whole Japanese government.

Eris hires her to be security staff for the fledgeling Cathean embassy, which gives her legal cover and diplomatic immunity. Manami becomes her friend. And one of the pleasures in the show is watching Aoi coming out of her shell and learning how to be a person. And instead of using her combat skills (which are outstanding) when and where a faceless government tells her to, she uses those skills to protect people she cares about.

I think Aoi is the most interesting character in the series, and she changes more than anyone else does over the course of it. But she isn't a monster, not at the beginning and not at the end.

Pete's got it all wrong, and if he let that one scene prevent him from watching the rest of the series, then he did miss something pretty good. I won't say that Asobi ni Iku Yo is as good as Shingu but damned little else is, either.

It's a lot better than he gives it credit for being.

UPDATE: Pete has seen these comments and isn't impressed. (He proves it by violating Godwin's Law.) I cite another opinion:

I wanted to check one little thing out in Asobi ni Iku Yo! but I found myself popping the next episode in as soon as the previous one finished. This one was definitely better the second time through much like Lucky Star was. If I had to summarize the difference in viewing experiences I’d say Asobi ni Iku Yo! was just easier to enjoy the second time. I liked the characters from the moment they were first introduced and the early plot twists made much more sense this time around. I was also able to better catch and enjoy the references to science fiction that infused the series this time as well as see how the fluffy exterior hid a rather well thought-out story of first contact between two cultures.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 01:33 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment
Post contains 563 words, total size 3 kb.

1 I personally thought Aoi was a little too Yandere-ish at times, but I can see the appeal.  I liked Manami's story, especially the scenes where she came to realize that she actually did love Kio. 

Asobi is a very smart and well-done show, and it continues a trend I've been seeing for a while where the panty-flashing shows have been getting better and better:  Sora no Otoshimono, Juuden-chan, and to a degree Maou (though it fell apart in the end) are all examples of this.  Sadly, there's a tendancy to write them off as dumb because of their fanservice, which I think is really unfair. 

Posted by: tellu541 at October 01, 2010 03:02 PM (pJ1uW)

2

AsoIku did suffer from the problem of a weak male lead. He certainly wasn't as much of a place-holder as the wimpboy in Kanokon but he didn't really have the kind of presence of Hanaukyo Taro or of Sai Akuto, and that left a weak spot in the cast.

He's kind of rudderless. He's a bit of a slacker. He hasn't figured out what he wants to be in life. I gather that this is one of the storylines of the series -- which is OK, I guess, but it hasn't been resolved yet and that leaves him seeming weak.

Yeah, in the end he became something of an action hero, and there's no doubt that what he was doing took guts. But it doesn't have the same kind of heroistic flavor as Akuto, or even Taro, who were doing what they did because they decided it was necessary. Kio is pretty much caught up in events and can't really stop. But it's not the same as Akuto saying or Taro saying

Those were genuine decisions, seriously made, and stuck to. Kio is just going with the flow; I don't think he ever really thought about whether he would have to be involved in what happened at the end. It's not the same.

So that's a weak spot. AsoIku is far from being a perfect series. But the humor is smart, and they keep it fresh, and there's a kind of bubbling intelligence to it all, beneath the fan service frosting. To some extent (not very much, but some) it's like Divergence Eve, where they used pandering to sell a pretty damned good story about characters who are more complex and interesting than they first seem.

Initially Manami comes off as a gun otaku, Aoi as a psychopath, and Eris as a bimbo. And two of those impressions are completely wrong. (Manami really is a gun otaku, but that's not all there is to her.)

I do rather wish Aoi hadn't been quite so angsty. On the other hand, points to Kio for not being at all angsty.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 01, 2010 03:41 PM (+rSRq)

3 Aoi does seem to be a new Trope, a girl who is very good at violence, and feels that because of this, she is undeserving of love. 

Posted by: Mauser at October 01, 2010 11:44 PM (cZPoz)

4 It's not new. A much older example is Kirika in Noir, from 2001.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 02, 2010 07:08 AM (+rSRq)

5 Yes, but in Saeko's case, she doesn't just like it, she admits it's a sexual turn-on for her.  I'm convinced that the author knew enough English slang to make her name a pun.  Saeko = Psycho.

Posted by: ubu at October 02, 2010 09:26 AM (GfCSm)

6

I think you're reaching a bit. The Japanized version of psycho is サイコ saiko.

Anyway, this is a post about Asobi ni Iku Yo. Let's talk about that. (Let's stop pimping HOTD in my comment section please.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 02, 2010 09:57 AM (+rSRq)

7 That character's name is written 冴子, which can be literally translated as "skillful girl" (also clear, serene, or (physically) cold). All the characters have fairly standard names, written normally (except for the gun otaku), and there don't seem to be any other obvious jokes involved.

Also, saikou is such a common adjective that using "psycho" would likely lead to confusion; "she's the best! and batshit insane!".

(haven't seen either show, but I'm likely to pick up a fully-licensed catgirl; C'Mell better than zombies)

-j

Posted by: J Greely at October 02, 2010 10:45 AM (2XtN5)

8 Sorry, wasn't so much "pimping" except that it was on my mind since I'd just finished a marathon, and the parallel was obvious to me.

I did try to search for Shingu, but I guess that's been off the feeds for a long time.

Posted by: Mauser at October 02, 2010 12:32 PM (cZPoz)

9 Allow me to continue standing on the lawn just long enough to note that I didn't suggest that it was a pun in Japanese, katakana, or hirgana, but in English slang.  I could say more, but our host has made it obvious he's not happy with this side discussion. 

Posted by: ubu at October 02, 2010 02:59 PM (GfCSm)

10

Thread closed because of topic drift.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 02, 2010 04:05 PM (+rSRq)

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